It's that time of year again - the Canes dads are in town!
This is the gameday hub, where you can find all the latest news and information related to tonight's Homegrown Series game featuring the Pittsburgh Penguins and Carolina Hurricanes in one handy location. Make this a regular stop throughout the day, as we update it with notes, videos, photos and more as puck drop draws near.
As always, we'll be rinkside at PNC Arena with updates from the Hurricanes morning skate at 10:30 a.m.
Last updated: 4:20 p.m.
BLUE CROSS AND BLUE SHIELD OF NORTH CAROLINA TOOLS TO VICTORY
Mike Maniscalco presents tonight's Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina three Tools to Victory.
Video: Tools to Victory: PIT vs. CAR
IN THE ROOM
Hear from defenseman Justin Faulk and forward Lee Stempniak after today's morning skate.
Video: Justin Faulk: "Tighten up defensively"
Video: Stempniak "We're getting contributions from everyone"
On containing Pittsburgh's offense: "They've scored a lot here recently, so we've got to do a good job managing the puck and making sure we're above people."
On the Canes' young defense: "They've done a real good job. They've done a good job in the progression of their career and will continue to do so. We don't take them for granted. We know there are going to be some nights that aren't as good as others. They're getting experience ... and they know what to expect. That's helped them."
On the power play: "We've got to tighten up there. We've got to get the detail, work ethic and execution of the power play, it's got to get better. ... It needs to be a positive factor in the second half [of the season]."
Video: Bill Peters: "I think we are playing well"
CANES LINES: MORNING SKATE
No surprises here with the Hurricanes expected lineup. Based on the morning skate, we should see the same forward lines and defensive pairs take the ice tonight.
Ryan Murphy, Klas Dahlbeck and Ty Rattie will be the healthy extras. More coming from inside the room shortly!
CANES HOST PENS IN BRIEF STOP HOME
The Carolina Hurricanes briefly return home, where they've won four straight games and are 14-1-1 in their last 16, to host the Pittsburgh Penguins, their third game in a stretch of five straight against Metropolitan Division opponents.
Tonight's game is also the front half of a back-to-back set that will then take the Hurricanes back to Columbus, where they dropped a 4-1 decision on Tuesday. In that game, they held a 1-0 lead late in the first period for 11 seconds until Columbus scored four unanswered goals and chased goaltender Cam Ward in his 20th consecutive start in net. Ohio native Alex Nedeljkovic, returned to Charlotte on Thursday morning, entered the game in relief and made 17 shots on 17 saves in his NHL debut.
"We were a step behind on a lot of those plays," head coach Bill Peters reassessed after practice on Thursday. "They're a good team."
Before the Canes square off for a rematch, they first turn their attention to the Pittsburgh Penguins, who rank third in the Metropolitan Division with 61 points (28-11-5). Of their 11 regulation losses, nine have occurred on the road, but they come to Raleigh winners of two in a row this week. After out-pacing Washington in an 8-7 track meet, the Penguins earned a 4-1 win in Montreal on Wednesday.
"They've got speed throughout the lineup, all four lines. They're quick in transition," Peters said of the opposition. "If you don't manage the puck properly and play the game properly, they're going to get you."
The Hurricanes, who have four games remaining until the All-Star break, took a scheduled day off on Wednesday before returning to the ice for practice on Thursday.
"It was a good practice with good tempo," Peters said. "Guys were energized after a day off."
The Canes will go back to Ward in net tonight against Pittsburgh, a chance for the veteran netminder to rebound after surrendering four goals in Columbus on Tuesday. It will mark the 21st consecutive start in net for Ward, who is 16-8-4 with a 2.25 goals-against average lifetime against the Penguins.
"He's a pro. He's fine. We need to play better in front of him and limit the quantity of shots," Peters said. "We've given up way more shots recently than we've ever given up. We've got to get that tightened up."
The Canes would also like to kick start their power play, which has converted just once in its last 33 attempts.
"It's gotten to the point now where it's a little bit of confidence, but we'll look at some things this afternoon and come up with a plan," Peters said after Thursday's practice. "We need it to be a factor."
CANESPR NOTES: This weekend's set against Pittsburgh and Columbus is the Canes' 10th of 16 back-to-back sets this season. The team is 5-2-2 in the front halves and 6-3-0 in the back halves. … Ron Hainsey is an assist shy of 200 in his NHL career.
CLICKS AND CLIPPINGS